Skills Required for Accounting and Finance Jobs
July 23, 2021

5 Qualities Companies Look For in Accounting and Finance Hires

The job market, like the wilderness, can seem cruel. Positions open up and people desperately claw themselves over others for the chance of moving up, but of the many dozens or even hundreds of candidates for a given position, only one will rise to the top.

It’s a brutal world out there, and if you really want to succeed, you have to pull out all the stops. Core to doing this well is knowing exactly what companies are looking for when hiring in the cut-throat world of accounting and finance.

Thankfully, that’s what this article is all about. We’ll run through some of the key qualities you should demonstrate on your CV and in your interview, thus giving you the edge you just might need to land the job of your dreams.


One of the most important things is to not lose your humanity in an effort to strive for the best. What this means in professional terms is that you need to demonstrate your strong ethical commitment. Employers want an accounting candidate whose moral compass is unwavering and solid.

As the person responsible for filtering through much of your company’s finances, there’s a lot riding on your shoulders. Your company’s shareholders, managers, team members, and many others depend on you to present accurate financial reports and statistics. There’s no flexibility here. Legally and morally, you need to do the right thing. So, make this clear in your resume and interview.

Let it speak to your strong ethical principles and guidelines. If you get to the interview stage, make sure to share a story about how you resolved an ethical dilemma in a way that was positive to all concerned. This is the foundation upon which all else will be built.

Surging Confidence

You want to have confidence. For the same reasons of having responsibility over the financial backbone of the company, employers looking for finance professionals will want someone who is assertive and assured in their ability.

They want to hire someone with self-confidence because if you need to come up with hard financial figures, they must rely on you to give it to them straight, not in a way where you’re wavering all over the place.

Of course, there’s a fine line to walk here. Don’t play into the frat-bro finance stereotype with an overly cocky demeanor or even full-blown arrogance. You want confidence, but balanced out with humility and gratitude for the many opportunities in your life that opened the door to where you are today. So, in practice, this means remaining poised during the interview, displaying strong body language, cutting out filler words, and offering a strong handshake and direct eye contact.

Attention to Detail

Also, very critical is your actual ability to do the job well. When poring through endless spreadsheets, you need to have an eye for detail.

So much of your job will likely require this careful attention to detail because it ties into nearly everything, including analyzing data, preparing reports, and communicating results. You need to be able to pore over huge chunks of data without losing the broader context, and without creating mistakes or overlooking certain numbers.

Even a small mistake here can cost the company thousands of hard-earned dollars, so on top of everything else you need to know, you have to have this essential skill down pat.

Communicate Clearly

Another important skill to have is the ability to communicate in a clear and concise way. Unfortunately, even if you’re an accountant, you don’t live in a bubble isolated from the rest of your workplace.

In fact, like pretty much all roles today, you’ll be expected to be able to communicate your ideas eloquently and clearly. It’s critical that you convey different information to different stakeholders in ways that are understandable even to those without the encyclopedic knowledge of finance and numbers that you may have.

They expect you to take limited information and data, turn it into usable numbers, and then in turn share those numbers and what they mean clearly with others in the company. You thus need to be able to communicate with people at all levels of the organization and even, potentially, customers.

It’s okay to have a bit of social anxiety, but make efforts to reduce this and to showcase your personality and intellect. Remember your audience and remember the fundamentals.

Business Knowledge

Lastly, you want the knowledge to be a vital part of the organization. You should constantly ask yourself how you’re adding value to the company, as that’s really the final bottom line for pretty much anywhere you’ll work.

You’re not isolated. You’re part of a bigger puzzle, and you need to understand how your work impacts that larger superstructure around you. Realize how your financial analysis plays into the bigger picture and leverage that knowledge.

Show your ability to understand the company and your ability to use that understanding to partner with different departments. Examples and listed accomplishments in this sphere can work wonders!

Closing Thoughts

So, there’s quite a lot to do when it comes to standing out from the pack. While this can be overwhelming, it can be useful to reframe. This isn’t a load of work to do, but rather a step in the journey to full self-actualization. Sure, it can be tough to learn about business and to shore up your communication skills, but this type of work and growth is the sort of thing that will give you lessons that you can carry with you for the rest of your long life.

Hopefully, this list has been of some help and interest to you in your search for a new job. It can be hard to figure out what exactly employers and organizations are looking for, but this should give you a strong start. If you want an even better starting point, it may be worthwhile to contact a professional recruiting firm like AHK Accounting Recruiters. As an accounting staffing agency in Toronto, we know how the hiring process works inside out and from beginning to end. We can be reached at 833-399-1663. Alternatively, try our easy-to-use website here.

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